Minor League Report.


AAA: SWB rained out

AA: Trenton rained out.

High A: Tampa (63-71) split a DH.

Reg. sched. game: Lost 4-0, getting just 2 hits. SS Diego Castillo’s 3 errors led to 3 unearned runs.

Makeup of 8/27 rainout: Won 5-3. Castillo 2 hits, RBI. 1B Steven Sensley 2 hits, 2 RBI.

Low A: Charleston (69-66) lost 8-5. LF Canaan Smith 2 hits, .306. RF Josh Stowers 2 RBI. C Eduardo Navas 3 hits, 2 RBI. 2 solo HR.


Prospects heading for the Arizona Fall League.


From MLB.com

Yankees (Surprise): Daniel Bies, RHP; Glenn Otto, RHP; Donny Sands, C; Josh Stowers, OF; Brandon Wagner, 1B

Acquired from the Mariners in an offshoot of the Sonny Gray trade in January, Stowers has a chance to have four average or better tools, with his arm the lone exception. Otto has had difficulty staying healthy but can reach 97 mph and devastate hitters with his curveball when he’s at 100 percent.

How many SS? Who sticks? Who is the short-term and who becomes the long-term solution?

Ok, I’ve worked 2 days all month because of contracting Covid. Still recovering. My sinuses are a little better. At worst, they felt like a basketball was shoved up my nose. Also not fun was sneezing or blowing my nose and seeing a tissue filled with blood. (I am on Xarelto, a blood-thinner, because of a PE I had last summer). Between a partial nephrectomy due to renal cell carcinoma, a saddle pulmonary embolism and contracting this Omicron variant, the last year has sucked, health-wise. Anyway…

The Yankees are expected to sign the top international free agent on the market today, switch-hitting 16 17 year old Roderick Arias. Although not confirmed, the deal is supposed to be for about $4 million of the $5 million the Yankees have to spend on international signings. You may remember that a few years ago, the Yankees used all of that money on CF Jasson Dominguez, who is now 18 and who played a bit at low A Tampa in 2021.

Arias would join a trio of other top prospects, ALL shortstops, in the Yankees’ system. Let’s look at them and what the Yanks may do at SS.

Oswald Peraza. 21. Righty hitter. I expect him to start 2022 at AAA SWB. His 2021 numbers are at 3 levels. High A (28 games)/AA (79) and AAA (8). Total: 115 games. .297-18-58 with 38 SB.

Anthony Volpe. 20. Righty hitter. Played in 109 games at Low A (54) and High A (55) in 2021. I expect him to start 2022 at AA. .294-27-86 with 33 SB in 2021.

Trey Sweeney. 21. Lefty bat. 29 games at Tampa Low A, where I expect him to start 2022. .245-6-13.

With prospects like this, and the signing of Arias, you wonder a few things. #1, I don’t expect the Yankees to offer a long-term deal to Carlos Correa or Trevor Story. Why, when you have these youngsters that would be under your financial control just a few years away? #2 That $ you would be giving Correa or Story? That money has to go to Aaron Judge to lock him up into a long-term deal and keep him from becoming a free agent. So you then have huge multi-year deals with Cole, Stanton, and Judge. There is only so much $ (albeit, a LOT of it) to go around.

So what do you Yankees have in the infield now? Nothing at SS.

1B. LeMahieu? Voit? These are who are there now. Do they bring back Rizzo? Go after Freeman? Trade for Olson? If a trade for Olson, you can bet one of these prospects would be heading to Oakland in the deal. If you are paying $$ for Rizzo or Freeman, that leaves no $$ for a long-term SS. Which, with the prospects listed here, isn’t too bad since all you are probably looking for right now is a short-term SS anyways. But if you get another 1B, be it Rizzo, Olson, or Freeman, who are you trading Voit to, and for whom?

2B. Torres and LeMahieu. Having proven he isn’t your answer at SS, Torres moves back to 2B, unless you decide LeMahieu is your 2b (after solving who plays 1B) and trading Torres.

SS. At present, they have none. Unless Gio plays SS as he did late last year and LeMahieu plays 3B. Not optimal. Neither is sticking Gleyber back there.

3B. Urshela, unless … see SS above.

Remember Tyler Wade was traded to the Angels, Rougned Odor was released (and signed with the Orioles).

One player to remember as a utility man is 22 year Oswaldo Cabrera, a switch-hitter who can play 2B, SS (yet another SS prospect, negating the need for a long-term SS solution) and 3B. He has played 212 games at 2B in the minors, 159 at SS and 135 at 3B. A lot at each position. He has an excellent chance of making the majors in 2022 and even beginning the season with the team after a 2021 that saw him do very well (AA 109 games and 9 games AAA). Even though most of his time was at AA, his numbers of .272-29-89 with 21 SB in 118 games were outstanding. As for those 9 games in AAA? 15 for 30 with 5 HR. Extremely small sample size but he handled the jump to AAA quite well.

So for a short term solution, what would be available? My first guess is a deal with Texas for Isiah Kiner-Falefa. 26 and a righty hitter. He won a GG at 3B for Texas in 2020. He has played 173 games in the majors at SS, 117 at 3B. He can even be your 3rd string emergency catcher, having played 73 games there! (and throw in 20 games at 2B). His bat is below average (2021 .271-8-53, 20 SB OPS+ 85) but his defense and versatility fit fine as a short-term solution.

Another option is Andrelton Simmons. Excellent glove, but terrible bat. 32, righty bat. The free agent only hit .223-3-31, OPS+ 57 for the Twins last year. Awful. He is a 4x GG winner. If the Yanks sign him, they would have to make a huge splash (Olson? Freeman? Someone even better than Rizzo) to make up for Simmons’ lack of offense (162 game average .265-10-59, OPS+ 88). Simmons’ glove is so good that he has finished Top-15 3x for MVP, including a #8 finish in 2017. IF he can somehow hit close to league average, a decent short term solution. But that is a big if, and the rest of the lineup would have to carry his lack of a big bat.

Yet another is a deal for Elvis Andrus of Oakland. 33, righty bat. Andrus, like Simmons, didn’t have a good 2021. .243-3-37, OPS+ 73 with 12 SB. (162 game average .272-7-61, 29 SB, OPS+ 85).

Of the short term solutions, my first choice would probably be Kiner-Falefa. Now not every prospect makes it (remember Jorge Mateo? or at catcher, Jesus Montero?) but you wonder which of these SS prospects a) will be the future Yankees SS b) will be moved to another position (3B? 2B? OF? ) or c) will be traded for a big name because they can’t beat out another of the top prospects who play the same position.

As for possibly another signing? Like P Carlos Rodon (I don’t see Zack Greinke b/c of his anxiety issues) or OF Seiya Suzuki? That’s for another blog post. As for now, just focusing on SS (and a little at 1B).

And, of course, nothing can be done until there is an agreement and this lockdown (haven’t we heard that word too often in EVERY sort of way recently?) ends.

Yanks choose woman manager for Low-A Tampa affiliate.

In a historic decision, the Yankees have chosen a woman, 34 year old Rachel Balkovec, to manage their Low-A Tampa club for 2022.

Chavez bolts Yanks for Mets

Eric Chavez won’t be an asst. hitting coach for the Yanks after all. The NY post is reporting that Chavez has bolted the Yankees to become the hitting coach for the Mets.

Ex-Tiger Infielder Matchick dies at 78.

Tommy Matchick, an infielder on the WS Champion Tiger team of 1968, died January 4 at the age of 78. Born in Hazleton (not far from me), Matchick was mostly a SS who also played 2B and 3B.

Matchick played for the Tigers (1967-1969), Red Sox (1970), Royals (1970), Brewers (1971) and Orioles (1972). In 1968, he and Ray Oyler basically platooned at SS, but for the WS, Tiger manager Mayo Smith moved CF Mickey Stanley to SS in a controversial move. This enabled him to go with an OF of Willie Horton in LF, Jim Northrup in CF and Hall-of-Famer Al Kaline in RF. The move of Stanley to SS was necessitated by the poor hitting of Oyler (.135) and Matchick (.203).

For his career, Matchick hit .215 with 4 HR and an OPS+ of 49 in 292 games.

Checking in. One obit, OF Biittner passes at age 75.

I’m still here. With the lockdown going on, there hasn’t been much to write about. Lately I haven’t felt like writing anyway, since I’m sick with what docs think is a URI (Upper Respiratory Infection). Yes, I was tested for Covid, awaiting the results on that, which I expect to be negative. Still, the URI sucks. It feels like someone shoved a basketball into my sinuses, and I was sneezing some blood. Ugh.

Larry Biittner, an OF for the Senators (1970-1971), Rangers (1972-1973), Expos (1974-1976), Cubs (1976-1980), Reds (1981-1982) and Rangers again (1983) passed away at the age of 75. Biittner, for sure, had one of the oddest spellings of any name in baseball history. A .273 career hitter with no power (just 29 career HR), his 162 game average was .273-4-47, OPS+ 88. 12 of his 29 career HR came in 1977 with the Cubs.

Yankees announce 2022 coaching staff.

The Yankees have announced and finalized their 2022 coaching staff.

* is someone new for 2022.

Manager-Aaron Boone
Bench Coach-Carlos Mendoza
Pitching Coach-Matt Blake
Bullpen Coach-Mike Harkey
Asst. Pitching Coach–* Desi Druschel
Hitting Coach-* Dillon Lawson
Asst. Hitting Coaches-*Eric Chavez and Casey Dykes
3B/OF coach-*Luis Rojas
1B/INF Coach-*Travis Chapman.

Nice to have Chavez back. He played for the Yanks in 2011 and 2012.

Yanks sign Cordero, Inciarte to minor league deals.

With the lockout, not much is going on, but the Yankees did sign two to minor league deals yesterday.

RHP Jimmy Cordero, 30. Washington, 2018, Toronto 2019, and the White Sox 2019-2020. 3-5, 4.55, ERA+ 99 in 83 MLB games, all in relief. Pitched in 2 games, 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief for the White Sox in the 2020 postseason. He missed all of 2021 after having had TJ surgery in March, 2021.

They also signed Ender Inciarte, 31, lefty hitting OF. Inciarte is a 1x All-Star, and 3x Gold Glove winner. He’s stolen 20 or more bases in three separate seasons. A .280 lifetime hitter, his 162 game average is .280-8-50 with 22 SB and an OPS+ of 91. But in 163 games since 2018, Inciarte has only hit .223-8-44, 12 SB and an OPS+ of only 67. He hit .215-2-10 for the Braves in 2021, OPS+ 55. He was released by the Braves in July so he wasn’t part of their WS Championship run. He signed with the Reds, didn’t play for them, and was released by the Reds in August. He has played with Arizona (2014-2015) and Atlanta (2016-2021).

Inciarte provides some depth (along with maybe Estevan Florial) in case Aaron Hicks can’t pick up the slack in CF. Hicks missed most of the 2021 season with a wrist injury and has been injury prone. Florial, 24, has shown flashes but despite hitting .300 (6 for 20) in the majors last year (and 7 for 23 in his MLB career), he only hit .219-17-47 with 13 SB between AA/AAA in 2021.

With Hicks injury last year, Brett Gardner was forced into more playing time than expected in 2021. Not only that, at times Aaron Judge started in CF, along with some appearances by journeymen Greg Allen and Jonathan Davis. Allen and Davis are both gone, and Gardner is now a free agent, but Gardner is 38 years old. Gardner only hit .222-10-39 in 2021, OPS+ 90. With Inciarte being younger, having had some speed and a lefty bat, you wonder if the signing is to replace Gardner on the roster with Inciarte and you wonder if this is a goodbye to the long-time Yankee in Gardner. Also, don’t be surprised if the Yankees still pursue someone else for CF.

Speaking of Judge, he just got married last week in Hawaii.

Ex-A’s pitcher Chuck Dobson dies at age 77.

Chuck Dobson, an up and coming A’s pitcher whose elbow injury led to him missing out on the A’s glory days of the early 1970’s, died recently at the age of 77.

Dobson pitched for the KC/Oakland A’s (1966-1971, 1973) and the California Angels (1974-1975). He won 15 or more games in 1969, 1970 and 1971. He led the AL in games started in 1970 and led all of MLB in shutouts that year.

But in late 1971, Dobson developed elbow problems which kept him from pitching for Oakland in that year’s ALCS vs. Baltimore. It also made Dobson miss all of the 1972 season, when Oakland won the first of their three consecutive WS titles (1972-1974).

Dobson never pitched in a postseason game. From 1973-1975 he only pitched in 15 games, starting 8 of them.

His career record was 74-69, 3.78, ERA+ 87. His 162 game average was 13-12, 3.78.

Kaat vs. John

If I gave you this to choose from, could you choose one over the other?

Pitcher A: LHP. 25 MLB seasons. 283 wins. ERA 3.45. ERA+ 108. 283-237. 3x MVP consideration. 3x 20 game winner. CYA consideration once. 3x All-Star. Ranked 109 on list of greatest pitchers of all-time.

Pitcher B: LHP. 26 MLB seasons. 288 wins. ERA 3.34 ERA+ 111. 288-231. 2x MVP consideration. 3x 20 game winner. CYA consideration 4x. 4x All-Star. Ranked 77 on list of greatest pitchers of all-time.

Almost similar stats, right? Pitcher A is Jim Kaat, just elected to the Hall of Fame. Pitcher B is Tommy John.

This isn’t to disparage Kaat. Congrats to Kitty. But why isn’t John getting the same consideration?

Minor League Rule 5 draft

Because of the lockout, the major league Rule 5 draft could not commence, but the minor league one did.

Boston claimed P Brian Keller off the Yanks. Keller, 27, RHP, was 2-2, 2.77 at AAA SWB in 2021. 11 staerts, 15 relief appearances.

The Yanks claimed Steven Jennings, 23, RHP, from the Pirates. He was at Low A, High A and AA in 2021, 9-1, 4.99.

They also claimed Manny Ramirez from Houston. No, not THAT Manny Ramirez, but a 22 y.o. RHP who didn’t pitch in the minors in 2020 or 2021 but was 0-3, 4.97 in A ball in 2019.

Minor league rule 5 draft. Minor moves.